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Gold!

Gold!

Gold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold!

Jackie Kerin

Annie White

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $a24.95

9781925804522

Victoria, Australia in the 1850s and the word of the discovery of gold is spreading around the world. Among the tens of thousands of everyday fold who flock to the goldfields are two young English brothers and another two from Canada.  They decide to team up but they soon discover that despite the rumours, the streets are not lined with gold and nor is it just lying around to be picked up.

Searching for gold is hard work for little reward as you battle the elements, the environment, the crowds, the thieves, the law -and Ma Kilduff’s advice doesn’t really make things easier.  Still they persevere until one day…

This is the “inside story” of the discovery of the first large nugget to be discovered in Victoria, the  Blanche Barkly, taking the reader through the harsh, hard life that the goldfields afforded yet was accepted because of gold fever.  However as well as the story itself, in the final few pages the reader is taken on a journey that provides even more detail beginning with the impact that the goldrush and subsequent discovery of the Blanche Barkly had on the Dja Dja Wurrung, the traditional owners of the land., giving an interesting and original perspective that could be explored further in any curriculum studies of the topic.  Teaching notes are available but this lends itself to investigating  lines of inquiry such as…

  • How did the quest for gold impact the traditional owners of the land on which it took place?
  • How did it affect the environment?
  • Why did the government initially try to keep the discovery of gold a secret and did they make the right decision?
  • As the world’s second largest gold producer in 2020, what lessons have been learned  and what has changed  since the first discoveries? What differences would Ma Kilduff notice?
  • What has been the legacy of the goldrush 170 years on?

Alternatively, students could put themselves in the shoes of one of the characters from Ma Kilduff to Queen Victoria and research and retell the story from that personal perspective. Even just asking, “What did the author and illustrator need to know to produce this book?” would lead to some interesting investigations.

Hopefully the days of “This is Year 5 so it’s gold” and the meaningless study of facts and figures have disappeared so having s book as rich as this in offering different ways to learn about a critical part of Australia’s history is as precious as the metal itself. 

 

 

Atticus Van Tasticus 3: The Treasure of Treasures

Atticus Van Tasticus 3: The Treasure of Treasures

Atticus Van Tasticus 3: The Treasure of Treasures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atticus Van Tasticus 3: The Treasure of Treasures

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

Puffin, 2020

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760892869

Continuing the adventures of Atticus and his brave crew of The Grandnan,  this next episode in this rollicking series for newly independent readers who are looking for an escape from the confines of the bedroom to the high seas and the possibilities of their imagination takes them into a world of  rattling skeletons, ghosts, monsters from the deep, killer sands and a boiling hot tub as they try to figure out the Map of Half Maps in search of certain treasure. .. 

What began as a way to escape life in the coal mine when Atticus chose a pirate ship from his Grandnan’s treasure pile has turned into a journey of adventure, confrontation and self-discovery for Atticus and his band of ragtag friends that is proving to be the perfect escape from this year of uncertainty and unexpected events.  Will Atticus ever find the treasure and save his family or will this just be an ongoing adventure that keeps us entertained for many more episodes?  In this current world of day-to-day, just let’s enjoy it while we have it and wait for the next adventure. You can be sure Atticus has spotted one on the horizon with his trusty telescope.

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure

Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure

Jeff Kinney

Puffin, 2020

224pp., pbk., RRp $A14.99

9781760897888

For the fans of Greg Heffley , the wimpy kid who has struggled so hard to fit in with his peers in middle school, this second adventure told by Greg’s best friend Rowley will be welcome light relief as the days of winter and restrictions march on and on and on.  In this, Rowley imagines an epic adventure in which Roland and his best friend, Garg the Barbarian, leave the safety of their village and embark on a quest to save Roland’s mom from the White Warlock.

Using all the humour and visual techniques of the originals, this will appeal to Wimpy Kid fans as well as reach out to new ones – those newly independent reluctant readers who still need a lot of support and are happy to be part of the in-crown reading one of the most popular series for the age group in a long time.

Hound the Detective

Hound the Detective

Hound the Detective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hound the Detective

Kimberley Andrews

Puffin, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9780143774655

I’m Hound! And I’m a sleuth.

I solve all types of cases.

I sniff and snuff until my nose

detects the clues and traces.

Missing jewels, stolen cars —I always solve the crime.

And his latest case has been mysteriously delivered by post, sending him on a trail that takes him all over town on the scent of something mysterious – although that something isn’t disclosed till the very last page. 

Kimberley Andrews, the creator of the memorable Puffin the Architect has created another masterpiece that will have readers of all ages poring over the detailed illustrations as eagerly as Hound follows his nose,  searching for clues and other hidden treasures. With its clever rhyming text, there’s an unspoken challenge for the reader to find the solution before Hound does, ensuring close engagement with the mystery and offering the opportunity for prediction and speculation. One for a range of ages that reminded me of the fun my students had trying to solve the mystery in the Graeme Base classic, The Eleventh Hour.

We’re Going on a Treasure Hunt

We’re Going on a Treasure Hunt

We’re Going on a Treasure Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Going on a Treasure Hunt

Martha Mumford

Laura Hughes, 

Bloomsbury, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408893395

Fresh from their Christmas elf chase, the four intrepid bunnies are off on another adventure, this time as sea-faring pirates looking for treasure. Boarding their ship they sail off to a desert island in search of the golden coins, encountering all sorts of creatures on their quest.  There are 10 coins to be found and young readers will delight in seeking them under the flaps as they pore over the detailed pictures and help the bunnies see what’s in front of them. 

Treasure hunts never lose their appeal, as has been proven with little walkers eagerly seeking teddy bears and rainbows on their lockdown outings, so as well as the fun of looking and lifting the flaps, they will enjoy the rhythm and rhyme of the text, repeated in a pattern with a lot of onomatopoeia to heighten the reading experience. With so much to see and do, this is likely to become a firm favourite that takes our youngest readers away from the grey days of winter to a summery sun adventure.

Max Booth Future Sleuth – Chip Blip

Max Booth Future Sleuth - Chip Blip

Max Booth Future Sleuth – Chip Blip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max Booth Future Sleuth – Chip Blip

Cameron Macintosh

Dave Atze

Big Sky, 2020

130pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781922265685

The Max Booth Future Sleuth books follow the adventures of 25th-century detective, Max, and his slightly neurotic robo-dog, Oscar, as they investigate objects from the ancient past – the long-lost 20th and 21st centuries. In this one, the fifth in the series, Max and Oscar discover a tiny device about the size of a grain of rice – an ID chip from 400 years previously in the 21st century. But, as in all their adventures investigating items from that distant past (and the reader’s present) there are those who are also interested and their presence looms. 

This is a series for younger capable readers who enjoy sci-fi, but appreciate the connection to their own world to keep the story and their understanding grounded. It also offers opportunities for reflection about how we live and the things we use and do and how these might be viewed in the future. Fast-paced, it offers something different that might open up the world and genre of sci-fi for young readers who aren’t yet ready for the plethora of post-apocalypse literature that is becoming so prevalent in YA lit these days. 

 

 

 

 

Mabel and the Mountain

Mabel and the Mountain

Mabel and the Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mabel and the Mountain

Kim Hillyard

Ladybird, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780241407929

Mabel is a fly.  But despite being only as big as a fingernail, she has BIG plans which include climbing a mountain, hosting a dinner party and making friends with a shark!  Despite the lack of encouragement from her friends, Mabel is determined to achieve her dreams and starts by looking for a mountain to climb – one that will challenge her.  And challenge her it does, and even though at times she thinks about changing those plans, she believes in herself and perseveres.

With a now-familiar theme of believing in yourself, persevering and being resilient, this is another story to encourage our young children to dream big and have the courage to continue, perhaps even inspiring their friends to have their own dreams. By having Mabel choose climbing a mountain as her challenge, a familiar metaphorical concept in itself, Hillyard is able to demonstrate the hard work, the sustained effort and ignoring of detractors that goes into achieving goals – there will always be setbacks and obstacles to be negotiated and navigated but the effort is worth it if the dream is.

A good one for the start of the year, or now that the year has restarted, when we ask children what their goals are – perhaps they could map out a route and trace their journey as they go, giving a tangible record to help them stay on track.

 

Tashi 25th Anniversary Edition

Tashi 25th anniversary edition

Tashi 25th anniversary edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tashi 25th Anniversary Edition

Anna Fienberg

Barbara Fienberg

Kim Gamble

Allen & Unwin, 2020

112pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760525446

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a little boy was finally born to a couple who so desperately wanted a child that after consulting Wise-As-An-Owl the wife sipped a special mixture made for her and within a year, Tashi was born.  Right from the start he proved to be very clever and had many adventures before finally fleeing from a wicked warlord, arriving in this land on the back of a swan where he became Jack’s special friend.  Every now and then he would share an adventure with Jack and then Jack recounted these to his incredulous parents.  And so the adventures and legend of Tashi were born…

And for 25 years they have fascinated young, independent readers being the perfect introduction to the world of fantasy and the fantastic, including almost every Year 3 class I’ve taught since the stories were first published.  Presented in a paperback format that contained two stories, they were perfect for real-alouds as well as read-alones, so much so that in 2001 my Year 3 classes led a national Book Rap that had students from all over the country answering the questions my students had posed about the stories via online activities and emails as the power of the Internet was gradually harnessed to connect children beyond the school walls.

Now the first of those stories, including the story of Tashi’s birth and the first indication on his cleverness at the age of one – Tashi and the Silver Cup-  and his becoming Jack’s friend,  have been republished in this special edition to celebrate that special milestone. 

In addition, all the stories have been collected into special editions each containing eight tales in each volume.  The Book of Giant Adventures; The Book of Magnificent Monsters; The Book of Magical Mysteries; and The Book of Spells and Secrets(each 256 pages and $A16.99 RRP) mean yet another generation of young readers can get to know this lovable little character, marvel at the detail in Kim Gamble’s illustrations and think about what they might do if they found themselves in a similar predicament. 

When I recently met up with some of those students who participated in the Rap in 2001, they all remembered it and the fun they had, particularly the power they had because they set the questions and tasks for the other participants, meaning each had to read the story closely to be able to construct open-ended activities.  Such memories would not be possible without having the quality and appeal of the stories to work with.  If your students haven’t met Tashi yet, now is the time to introduce them.

Where’s Spot?

Where's Spot?

Where’s Spot?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s Spot?

Eric Hill

Puffin,2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9780241446850

It’s dinner time and Mama Dog is looking for Spot.  Where can he be? Under the rug? Behind the door? Inside the clock? He’s playing hide-and-seek and there are so many places a little puppy can fit into.

As well as having the joy of lifting the flaps to discover Spot’s hiding place, our youngest readers can also have the fun of predicting where he might be and whether he could be in the places Mama looks, at the same time learning important place words like under and behind and so on.

This is the 40th anniversary of the publishing of this first in the series about this little dog and so it is in a stunning ruby foil cover that attracts the eye as much as the illustrations. Judging by the number of requests for Spot-related fabrics and so forth on a FB group I belong to, this little fellow is as popular as he was when he was first introduced all those years ago. And given the stories have sold 65 million copies in over 60 languages, his appeal is universal.

To add to the delight, there are activities to be done so children can party at home with Spot during these shut-down times, and share in this special reading of the story.

Perfect for starting our very youngest on their reading adventures.

 

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Cinders and Sparks (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Magic at Midnight

 9780008292119

Fairies in the Forest

9780008292140

Goblins and Gold

9780008292171

Lindsay Kelk

Pippa Curnick

HarperCollins, 2019-2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Cinders lives a boring life with her selfish stepsisters and mean stepmother, doing the chores and tending to their every need, just like her traditional counterpart.  While they prefer to stay indoors all day listening to their mother read, Cinders would dearly love to be outside playing and although they can’t see the value of that she is allowed to do so once her chores are completed.  But something strange happens while she is outside –  her dog Sparks starts talking to her, her wishes start coming true and her fairy godmother, Brian, materialises.  (It’s been hard to track Cinders down because she is not on social media.)

And so begins a new series for young independent girls who are ready for a solid adventure story but still believe in magic and the characters of their childhood.  Easy to read, engaging and funny in parts,familiar characters and an ongoing quest make this a great read but at the same time, it has an underlying message that celebrates diversity and reaffirms that it is OK to be different. 

Miss 9 asked for The Worst Witch series for her birthday six weeks ago, and she is going to be thrilled when she discovers this series in her letterbox as a follow up because it will be perfect for her.  Thoroughly modern, thoroughly entertaining and just right for a winter read.